Residents of Enniskillen will be familiar with the former Portora Royal School which amalgamated with Enniskillen Collegiate Grammar School to form the co-educational Enniskillen Royal Grammar School. 

Portora was one of five Royal schools founded by King James I way back in 1608, hence the ‘Royal’ prefix.

You don’t get to just award yourself ‘Royal’ prefixes and it would appear that nobody but a bona fide Royal can take them from you which is how the young women of Enniskillen and surrounding districts attending the Girls' grammar school were elevated to inclusion in Portora’s Royal status.

There are five Royal schools in Ireland courtesy of the first King James I of England.

People often forget that there was a time before partition, a fairly recent invention by historical standards when the whole island of Ireland was one, but probably even then a dysfunctional, administrative unit of the British Empire. And post-1801, an integral part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.

Partition divided the nine-county province of Ulster, six counties being retained within the UK while counties; Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan left.

But for the collapse of the Border Commission, some or all of Fermanagh and Tyrone might well have done likewise and alternatively, some of the departing three might have been included in the new Northern Ireland entity.

Be that as it may, when the meandering border was finalised, two of the Royal Schools of Cavan and Raphoe found themselves in non-Royal territory.

Unlike Portora, the Cavan school barely functioned from 1641. Despite having gained further Royal lands from Charles I before his untimely demise, that is to say, Charles gave them land he didn’t own before the Monarchy stole them from the people the school suffered a serious double whammy when the King literally lost his head.

Cromwell, the man responsible for severing it from the rest of his body landed in Ireland to put manners on Irish Catholics and English Royalists alike. The school didn’t really recover from the consequence of being both Royalist and Protestant after Cromwell’s visit until after partition when in 1924, the new Free State and a new principal both arrived around the same time and changed their fortune for the better.

The current Royal and Prior Comprehensive School in Raphoe is the direct descendant of the original Royal school founded in Raphoe in 1608. Like Cavan, it is thriving outside the jurisdiction of the Monarchy, with its culture, religion and heritage proudly retained and, as is the Royal in the School Name.

James I initiated the Plantation of Ulster in 1609, the year after founding the schools. He was clearly making a sound preparatory investment in the education of the young protestant men he foresaw would be needed to ensure the sustainability of the Plantation.

James’ mother was a half-sister of Queen Elizabeth I. Both women were daughters of Henry VIII the first English King to unilaterally declare himself King of Ireland, in 1541, without so much as a ‘by your leave’.

Monarchs, not just the English variety, were like that in those days, and still are. Having invented the fiction that God chose them to be rulers, and allowed them to plunder, and slaughter with impunity, they just demanded ownership and use of everything they fancied having and gathered up armies to take by force whatever wasn’t handed over on demand.

This included land, livestock, money, men and boys to die in wars, women for the queen’s kitchen and the king’s bed and other people’s countries. They then passed laws to protect themselves from the peasantry, small landholders and middle-men ever getting it back without breaking the law.

A neat trick still routinely used by the UK Parliament which rules in the name and by consent of the Monarchy.

When England had enough of Cromwell’s puritanism they re-instated Charles II as King in 1660, but it wasn’t until over a century later that the ‘Divine Right of Kings’ was challenged as a load of codswallop.

This is when what we call ‘Western democracy’ emerged with the French and American and Irish revolutions, inspired by the writing and philosophy of an English man, Thomas Paine.

The English didn’t have it in them to depose the Monarch twice, so they stuck with what they had on the advice of an Irishman, Edmund Burke. History is complicated but enlightening.

Over 300 years later, across Europe, we are now looking at the prospect of another great war, because of the myth that the God of the Old Testament chose Israel to steal the land and the fruits of the labour of Palestinians, and ultimately to exterminate them as a people, even if he is the same God as the one in the New Testament which says God’s kingdom is not of this world.

Zionism and Christian fundamentalists seem to have created their own amalgamation of supremacism in order to sustain the hierarchy of religious influence on capitalism. God appears to be on their side and rendered the entire world powerless to stop the genocide of Palestinians.

They may not get off so lightly in the court of world opinion of the masses of ordinary humans or the International Court of Justice.

We can but hope protest and boycott, and if you believe in the power of prayer, now’s your time to pray like world peace depended on it. It might well come to that!


Another Irish institution now outside the jurisdiction of the monarchy but which has recently been behaving as if it too came under the principle of Divine Right is Trinity College, Dublin.

Its official title is ‘‘The College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth’. The Elizabeth in question is Elizabeth I, daughter of Henry VIII.

Trinity College, Dublin recently fined the Student Union Body almost a quarter of a million euros for the loss of tourist revenue arising from the student protests.

The brazen cheek of it!

Trinity has been forced to climb down from its Divine Right delusions and negotiate with the student Union and protestors, resulting in a commitment to divest from Israel. That is global democracy in action.